One hundred and twenty five years and the club’s one hundred and twentieth Annual meeting were the highlights of this season. A dinner was held in the hall with Paul Reedy the guest speaker. Danny Elliott was awarded his Life Membership on that evening paying tribute to his contribution and achievements over 23 years. It was fitting that the club recognise and record the many achievements that had been made in the twenty five years since the 100th anniversary. In many areas we had made quantum leaps in training and in competition but we were still very much a small and hardworking club punching well above our weight in state and National rowing. It was something many of the older members had always dreamed of and of the goals we had set ourselves back in 1985 we had achieved all of them except for Olympic representation. In the sphere of competition, the club suffered greatly from the changes to state and national rowing program. The system of selection regattas and changes to status rules literally meant elite competitors could not and did not have the time to compete for their clubs. Such was the time commitment and the effort required to train for and attend selection regattas there was literally no way that they could race at ordinary regattas. Despite this the club still scored 40 wins mainly with the efforts of our juniors particularly the men.
It was a season of lows as well. One of the most devastating blows being the removal of all support in any form, equipment or financial, for the TI Program by the VRA. In spite of five years of hard work and hours and hours that had gone into planning, testing, training, coaching and running the program,the VRA decided to finish it with little or no recognition for the club and the members who gave their time, efforts making it a success. And it was a proven success, with graduates gaining AIS scholarships, State Championships and being selected for state crews as well as becoming contributing members of the club. The club decided to continue the program without VRA support and crews continued to do very well.
The club raced at 16 regattas missing only those at Christmas and Easter and also YWCA’s Regatta as the Enfield bushfires were raging just a little too close for comfort to the Elliott household! They did not want to tow the trailer to a regatta and return home to find their house gone up in smoke! Despite not attending these regattas we still managed to finish second on the Men’s Champion Club for the third year in a row behind Essendon. With just two more wins we could have won the Premiership. The women finished in 7th place on the Women’s Champion Club Premiership.
The National Championships were again back in Western Australia at Wellington Dam. The water level was quite low which presented some hazards but thankfully the water remained calm and there was no reappearance of Cyclone Ned who wreaked havoc last time the Nationals were in Western Australia. Anthony Edwards was selected as the Victorian sculler for the President’s Cup and Danny Elliott was selected as his coach. It was exactly twenty years since Kate Elliott had represented Victoria in the Nell Slatter interstate race and now we had a male sculler racing in the Presidents Cup! He finished a creditable second in the final. He also won the Lightweight Senior A Championship of Australia and teamed with Simon Burgess to win the Senior Lightweight Double sculls. He collected his third Australian Championship of this regatta, rowing in a composite Lightweight eight. Marion Taffe was in the winning U/23 Double scull with Christine Camiller of Essendon and won her second championship in a composite Lightweight four. She also represented Victoria in the Lightweight Victorian four placing 3rd . Richard Jackson, one of the original TIP’s, rowed for Victoria in the Men’s Youth Eight which placed 2nd.
State Championship wins were down this year to just one. This was due to a clash between the Senior State titles and the first National selection trial so the VRA in their wisdom decided not to hold any Senior State Championships. The Senior Double Scull Championship was held at Ballarat Regatta in March and here youth teamed with experience when Anthony Edwards and Matt Taylor combined to win the event. At the Country Championships the club won five races making it the most successful club on the day. The highlight of this was the win by the Men’s Open four who put on a polished performance to come home convincing winners.
The first of the primary school Learn to Row programs was held this year with students from Blackhill Primary School taking part in six-week program. This was organised and run by Kate Elliott with assistance from some of the junior members such as Aaron Block one of the original TIP’s who was now coaching beginner programs.
Ballarat University again used our facilities and ran a program under the guidance of Caroline Burge. About forty Damascus students also participated in a Learn to Row program with Kate Elliott again organizing and coaching them. Bob Steele, a builder and father of Lora Steele, undertook to draw up a building maintenance plan and costing to assist us with maintaining the shed. The Australia Day Fireworks Barbecue was held again and was a real highlight with 80 members and friends enjoying the evening. Shopping Tours also added to our funds as well as providing a great day out for our intrepid shoppers. An End of season Dinner was held at Ryan’s family restaurant with forty members and friends attending.
It was harking back to pre World War Two when club member Jamie McDonald unwittingly revived great Ballarat City tradition-the badminton team! The team, The Rowers, started in E-grade in the summer pennant and in their second season, the winter pennant held the top position on the ladder. They went on to win the premiership one week after the annual meeting -achieving something that had last been achieved in 1947! Kate and Danny Elliott were in that initial team and went on to be the only “Rowers” on the team which had many incarnations over the next 15 years. They eventually won a premiership in each Grade from E through to A, applying the same hard work and persistence to playing badminton as they had to their rowing.
Excerpts from the 125th Anniversary Dinner held at the boatshed in November 1995. Booklet was researched and produced by Moyra Purton.